Loss of a Pet: Picture Book for ages 4-adult (The Tenth Good Thing…)

Picture Book for Kids on Loss of Pet

Our quest for a puppy took a funny turn. We were third on the list for a female Golden Retriever and the breeder just emailed to say that one of the three female puppies had an accident and lost her tail. That news got me thinking. Our friends who just got a Black Labrador 6-week-old puppy said to try to find a vet that has a “new puppy” package because initial costs for neutering and shots were not inexpensive. She also recommended animal health insurance through Purina which has different deductibles. Capability:Mom‘s dog (a “Doodle” mix) has an auto-immune medical condition.

My mind wandered next to the plethora of pets that have made their way into our home these past years. The girls cried when their favorite Hermit Crabs passed on. Hermit Crabs are both nocturnal and not especially social creatures. Nevertheless, my middle one cried for “Shy, who never pinched her and if s/he did, it wasn’t that hard.” My oldest cried over “Hermie” and she keeps his/her shell in her jewelry box.

Then there was the Japanese Fighting Fish that my kids forced me to buy because they spent their own money. I had to change the water every other day using bottled spring water. Finally, I rebelled and made them change the water themselves. Oops, they accidentally poured the fish down the sink. It was wintertime also, so the water was too cold for the fish who was barely active in our 68 degree winter temperature house. More tears. We also had a plethora of toads and crickets. The crickets were the buy product of a book club based on The Cricket in Times Square. Those “feeder” crickets have about a 1/2 day life span! No one was upset about them.

We also ended up with a mated pair of toads. The little boys across the street were having a Lemonade/Toad stand: 2 Toads for a dollar or 2 cups of lemonade for a dollar. We ended up with both lemonade and toads. They caught the toads at the creek behind their house. I kept the toads in the house for about two days and then released them. The kids didn’t seem to mind, and now their friends’ favorite activity at our house is to catch the toad offspring — 19 is the record for one day.

But I digress. The circle of life thing. Yes. That is a hard lesson for anyone, much less a child and their beloved pet. And with a puppy, the circle of life will eventually come around. When this happens, I recommend this book, The Tenth Good Thing about Barney by Judith Viorst. Barney was a small boy’s beloved cat. When Barney dies, he cries and cries. His mother suggests that they have a funeral for Barney and that he talk about ten good things about his cat. At the funeral, he can only think of 9 good things. His sister thinks Barney is in heaven but the little boy thinks Barney is in the ground. The father mediates and says that we don’t know too much about heaven to be absolutely sure he’s there. The dad has the little boy help him in the garden. It is there that they think of the tenth good thing about Barney: he’ll help grow the flowers, trees and grass and that is a pretty nice job for a cat!

Here is a website post that I found with Ten Tips on Coping with Pet Loss.

To purchase any book, please click on image of book.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Julie

    I second this book recommendation!

    When we were told our 11 year old cat had cancer, I read this book with my daughters in preparation for eventually sharing the bad news with them. I wanted to let them know what was happening, but not so much in advance they’d walk around having anxiety about it for six months, waiting for the beloved family pet to die. As it turns out, I never had to have “a talk” about the cat. Two years later our cat seems to appear healthier than ever. Like seriously. I’m still not sure how she springs onto the kitchen counter from the bare floor, but she does.
    However, when my aunt died my oldest daughter (who was 7) was quite sad. We wrote a letter with all of the good things about Aunt Fran, and talked about when her ashes were scattered that she would go on to help the trees grow. It gave her something positive to frame her thoughts around during the sad time.

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